Saturday, December 27, 2008

More on Christmas

Christmas evokes many memories some joyous while others can make us cry. Yet every year, Christmas comes. We make decisions about how we celebrate and the memories we create. When we lived in Florida there were several Christmases where I felt rather alone and isolated. Luckily, we have dear family friends in Tampa who included us in their family gathering. These are sweet memories.

I always felt very blessed that godly wonderful people filled in the gap for me after my family's attempt to destroy me and my family. God is faithful and He scoops up the brokenhearted and holds them close and then calls His faithful children to love and care for His wounded and weary children.

Over the years, God has placed people in my life that became family. They have become stronger family than blood because God bonded us together with His Spirit. Lauri and her family are some of my wonderful blessings and gifts from God. We usually try to get together over the holidays - because you get together with family during this season.

Lauri and her kids arrived the evening of December 26. Here are a few photos of all of us.

Aaron and Glenn

Taylor, Lauri and Rachel

I realized that I have been making digital videos instead of photos. I'll see about downloading one of them later.

Mark was going shopping for me the day before Christmas when the radiator broke in half in the Mustang. He had to have Paul come pick him up. The car was fixed on Friday morning, so he went and picked me up a few more things. He got me the Anniversary Willow Tree figurine. Here are a couple of photos of me and my best and only husband. We will be celebrating 29 years of marriage on Monday, December 29.

Mark and me.

Mark,me and pink slippers.


My friend, Deborah, wrote about family traditions in her blog. This year my thoughts had been very similar in that I didn't think that we had holiday traditions. I had lamented this fact to Mark, who just gave me one of his famous looks that read, "Woman, what are you talking about?"

Deborah asked that we blog about our traditions. I will attempt to tell our singular holiday tradition. We celebrate Advent. We have celebrated Advent since the late 1980's. We had friends in seminary who celebrated Advent and they introduced this wonderful tradition to our family.

One year on Christmas day, our Advent wreath caught fire. Of course, we had company over and there was a bit of a commotion as Mark's tried to blow out the dried Christmas foliage with which I had surrounded our wreath. While we didn't think it humorous at the time, it has become one of those funny stories that our family tells.

This year, a dear friend, Lynda Talmadge, gave our family a beautiful new Advent wreath this year as an early Christmas present.

Our lovely new Advent wreath!

We used to light a candle every evening during supper but as our sons have gotten older and our schedules different, we chose to light our candles the four Sundays before Christmas. Since we all attend different churches, the lighting of our Advent wreath every Sunday brought both of my sons home for Sunday dinner after morning worship. I loved it.

Christmas eve, we pause to once again read and listen to the birth of our Savior and we light the center candle.

Eating supper on Christmas eve, with our large Christ candle gracing our table to remind us of our Lord.

Christmas morning, I change all the weekly candles to white and we burn all the white candles along with the Christ candles for hours. Those little lights remind us of the true reason we celebrate this season.

Another tradition when the children were little was to open two gifts on Christmas eve - their pajamas and their new Christmas ornament. Well, this year, there were no sweet Christmas jammies under the tree. Instead, the boys were allowed to open all of their together gifts that their dad and I had bought them. These included two games, several Wii accessories, and a new Wii game.

Michael, me and Paul

I guess perhaps, I just wrote about two traditions. What can I say, I teach math and can't count. We love the holidays. It's a time for slowing down and spending time with loved ones. It's a time for remembering Christ and His gift to us. So, while our traditions seem few, they are meaningful.

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

As y'all can see, I didn't put up our nine foot tree, I put up a tiny little three foot tree on a table. But, at least it's up and the house looks a little festive.

I have been getting some Christmas goodies done today. I am truly sick of smelling sweets. I have made: peanut butter fudge, peanut butter balls, dipped pretzels, Neiman Marcus $250 cookie recipe, and the cake is cooling for the coconut cake.

Tomorrow, I am making an easy meal of potato cheese soup, rolls (store bought) and ambrosia. I will hopefully get some boiled custard made, too. Mark loves it. It's his mom's recipe.

Christmas day I will make a roast and various other things,

Lauri and her family will arrive the day after Christmas. I can't wait to see them.

Blessings and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

When did it get to be December?

We are nearing the second week of December. I can’t believe how quickly this school year is progressing. I am more relaxed with my abilities and some days, I find myself enjoying this job for a few hours a day. Some of my students are wonderful. They are earnest their desire to learn. Those students help me to remain motivated. Unfortunately, I have other students who do not want to learn.

Part of the problem is the standards that the state of Georgia has decided that fifth grade students need to know. However, the vast majority of the children are simply not ready for these standards. We need to be focusing on arithmetic skills. Instead, we are teaching to the test and hoping that these children will somehow remember enough of the instruction to pass the CRCT. It is obvious that whoever came up with these standards have never been in a classroom. So, we end up with extremely frustrated students who become behavior issues. I am sure that if we actually allowed to teach to their readiness, many of the behavior problems would be solved. Discouraged children cause problems. I wish we could focus on getting their computation skills perfected to understanding not simply memorized.

The sad fact is that the bureaucrats that came up with these standards are probably sincere in their aspiration to improve student’s problem solving skills but instead they are ruining an entire generation’s math knowledge. These students are so confused with math ideas that are above their comprehension skills that they are unable to solve problems. The bureaucrats blame the teachers and the schools instead of looking at the ridiculousness of the standards that they believe are necessary.

Well, enough of my soapbox.

I do have WONDERFUL news! Paul has decided that he wants to complete his high school education at home. I am thrilled. I think that this will be wonderful for him. I have enrolled him in a satellite school called Homelife Academy. He will graduate with a diploma and a portfolio.

Normally, I take months in deciding on curriculum; however, since I am working full-time and this decision was only made this week, I haven’t had the luxury of time. But, God is good. I have wonderful resources in the ladies from my Christian-Moms board! I asked for suggestions on curriculum and my moms responded. In fact, several have offered to give or loan me curriculum to use so that I do not have to buy it. This is such a blessing due to the financial needs we have experienced in recent months.

The first major need was in purchasing the Mustang. While we were blessed with a wonderful price, it drained my savings. Michael’s truck has needed several repairs. Thanksgiving week, Paul wrecked my van! It was an accident. (He hit a pole at Sonics. The pole survived but the front side panel and light on the passengers side didn’t!) Now, I have to pay for body work. Also, my van decided to try and die mechanically. This week, we spent nearly $400.00 on it and were told that we needed to put a rebuilt engine in it by February. I keep telling myself that it’s only money.

I still do not have my tree up. The only Christmas decorations that I have out are my Fontanini Nativity, my Advent wreath, and poinsettias and garland on the stairs. I am not in the mood to decorate. My tree is always up by now. I usually put it up the day after Thanksgiving.

This blog has gone on and on. But, that’s an update on our family.